On the Benefits of Traffic Signal Removal
New research from Wayne State University extols the advantages of removing unnecessary traffic lights. The researchers studied a sample of 100 signals across Detroit. Eric Jaffe writes, "Extrapolating those findings to all the lights deemed eligible for removal (1,021), [researchers] Schrader and Hummer concluded that Detroit could remove 460 signals, or 30 percent of its total inventory."
While it is true that depopulated Detroit suffers from a glut of seldom-used roadways, every city has its share of low-traffic intersections. The study provides four reasons that can justify signal removal. They include:
- Removing a single traffic light can save up to $8,000 per year in operation and maintenance costs.
- Signals can impede traffic flow as drivers wait alone at red lights.
- Swapping signals for stop signs can improve driver concentration.
- City taxpayers unfairly subsidize the travel of nonresidents by paying for the traffic lights they use commuting to suburbs.